In her memoir I am Woman…, Mrs. Anthony writes of her journey living, loving and agonizing with her husband Tony, who for most of their marriage is in the grip of alcoholism.
The author’s story begins with her memories of a happy childhood in Melaka, a port city in southern Malaysia. She meets her “Prince Charming,” Tony, and although they come from different backgrounds, she’s delighted that their extended families blend nicely over time. Both aim to make a full life for themselves and are blessed with children, loving relatives and what appears to be an increasingly successful foray in the business world. But their life starts to unravel as alcoholism ravishes Tony and, with him, their hopes and dreams.
While many memoirs explore the pain of living with an alcoholic, Mrs. Anthony’s story is unusual for her descriptions of Malaysian culture and its rituals and beliefs. Her parents had an arranged marriage that was so joyful it set high expectations for the author, whose marriage was not arranged. Mrs. Anthony explains the importance of the couple saving face in personal and business arrangements and of the scheduling of “auspicious” dates for important events: those dates and times in Malaysian culture that are believed to align them with the best fortune.
The author writes in a straightforward manner, without the artful craft of the best memoirs. In great chronological detail she reports the growing toll of her husband’s increasingly debilitating disease: missed family and business appointments, sudden mood changes, lapses in business that jeopardized their finances, declining health. The Epilogue brings little uplift, as the author implies things get worse in the coming sequel.
Without more narrative flair, the book is unlikely to attract general readers. However, those experiencing similar situations will appreciate this memoir and its assurance that they are not alone in their travails.
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